By Jordan Bastian and Scott Chasen
MLB.com |@MLBastian |
CLEVELAND -- The Indians used a solid performance from right-hander Danny Salazar, plus a pair of home runs, to pick up a 6-1 victory over the Royals on Friday night at Progressive Field. The win trimmed Kansas City's lead atop the American League Central to one-half game.
"His stuff was so good," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "When you are throwing that hard, and he starts throwing that breaking ball and changeup -- a lot of good weapons. He did a good job, because they came into the series swinging the bat pretty good."
Homers by catcher Yan Gomes and rookie outfielder Tyler Naquin helped back the outing by Salazar, who limited the Royals to one run on three hits and struck out nine in eight innings. Both home runs came off Kansas City starter Edinson Volquez, who was charged with five runs on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings.
Naquin's home run, which had an exit velocity of 104.5 mph according to Statcast™, was the first of his career.
"I couldn't really feel anything, man," Naquin said. "It was pretty special touching home plate with [Mike Napoli] and [Jason Kipnis] standing at the top of the dugout, man. It was a special feeling, especially to be a part of a team like this, with good chemistry in the clubhouse and a bunch of good guys."
The Royals worked Salazar for five walks, but the only damage done came off the bat of catcher Drew Butera. In the third inning, Butera belted a pitch from Salazar to left field for a leadoff homer -- his second blast in as many games.
"This guy was [crazy] tonight," Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar said of Salazar. "That's a really good pitcher."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Chasing Volquez: Cleveland struck for three runs in the third inning, thanks in part to RBI hits from Francisco Lindor and Mike Napoli. Volquez quieted down the Tribe's lineup for the next three frames, but he exited in the seventh, when Naquin padded Cleveland's lead with his opposite-field home run.
"I was all over the place," Volquez said. "[I had] bad fastball command today and made a couple mistakes. And they made me pay for it."
Gomes goes deep: With two out in the second, Gomes went deep to left-center for his seventh home run of the season. Per Statcast™, the shot had an exit velocity of 106 mph and traveled 407 feet from the plate. It marked only his second hit in a span of 18 at-bats -- the other being a walk-off single on Wednesday against Texas.
Butera doubles down: After hitting his first home run of the season on Thursday, Butera homered in consecutive games for the first time in his career. Kansas City's catcher, who has garnered more playing time due to the injury to Salvador Perez, smashed a slider from Salazar over the left-field wall to tie the score at 1.
Per Statcast™, the home run traveled 381 feet from the plate with an exit velocity of 96 mph. It was just Butera's 11th career blast and his third with the Royals. He's been unable to celebrate any of them that much, however, as he has yet to homer in a Kansas City win.
Lonnie's assist: Right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall showed off his arm in the seventh, when Cheslor Cuthbert tried to stretch a single into a double. Chisenhall quickly collected the ball at the warning track and rifled a 90-mph throw that sailed 225 feet, according to Statcast™. Lindor made a nice pick and applied the tag for an impressive out. It was Chisenhall's second assist of the year and the 12th overall for Cleveland's outfield.
"That was a really nice play," Francona said. "That would have been a runner on second with one out. Instead, it was two outs with nobody on. It was just a really good play. It was fun to watch on the replay. It looked every bit as good the second time."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Leading off the sixth inning, Escobar singled to center for his 1,000th career hit. It took Escobar 1,027 games to reach the milestone, which also snapped an 0-for-9 skid over the last three games. More >
"When I hit the ball I thought, 'That's a base hit,'" Escobar said. "I [was] so happy for that."
WHAT'S NEXT Royals: Right-hander Ian Kennedy (4-3, 3.03 ERA) will take the mound against the Tribe at 6:15 p.m. CT on Saturday at Progressive Field. Kennedy pitched seven scoreless innings in a win over the Indians on May 7. His ERA against the AL Central this year is 1.54.
Indians: Right-hander Josh Tomlin (7-1, 3.79) will start against the Royals on Saturday at 7:15 p.m. ET. Tomlin faced Kansas City earlier this season and tossed six innings, in which he gave up four runs on seven hits in the win.